Returning Rakhine villagers call for more security

By HEIN KO SOE | FRONTIER

YANGON — More than 1,000 ethnic Rakhine who fled villages in northern Rakhine State last week in the wake of deadly attacks have returned home, but urged the government to increase security.

The residents of Chutepyin, Padaukmyaing, Pyinshae and Paukpinyin villages in Rathedaung Township, near the border with Maungdaw Township, fled after five people were killed and two went missing in the area in late July and early August.

According to the State Counsellor’s Office information team, security forces found the bodies of six ethnic Mro Buddhists near Kaigyi village in Maungdaw on August 3. Another body was found on August 5, while one woman remains missing. The group had gone into the Mayu mountains to tend their farms, reports said.

The State Counsellor’s Office said a “terrorist group” was responsible for the killings. In October 2016, a Rohingya Muslim insurgent group initially calling itself Al Yaqin, or Faith Movement, launched attacks on Border Guard Police outposts.

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Prior to the attack, a Rathedaung resident had also disappeared in the Mayu mountains. The State Counsellor’s Office said in a statement that U Than Htay had been missing since July 27. He has still not been found.

U Aung Thee Mra, the administrator Chutepyin village tract, said Than Htay went missing about 7 kilometres (4 miles) from Chutepyin, close to the border of Maungdaw and Rathedaung townships.

“We found Mg Than Htay’s bag … but we haven’t found him yet,” said Aung Thee Mra, who helped with the search.

Following the August 3 killing, residents of the four villages fled on foot to Shaetipyin and Gwasone villages.

The State Counsellor’s Office said in a statement today that all residents who fled last week returned home yesterday with a security escort.

However, residents told Frontier that they remained concerned about security in the area.

“We need more security, both military and police, because the Muslim terrorists are threatening natives in Rathedaung,” said U Aung Thee Mra, the administrator Chutepyin village tract.

Members of the Arakan National Party, the state’s largest political party, yesterday met Senior General Min Aung Hlaing to discuss future cooperation on peace, stability and development in Rakhine State.

Rakhine State Hluttaw lawmaker U Oo Than Naing (Arakan National Party, Rathedaung-1) said the National League for Democracy-appointed state government had failed to prioritise security.

In June the ANP submitted a proposal to the state assembly calling on the government to provide adequate security so that Rakhine natives can live safely in their villages. The proposal was subsequently approved by the assembly, in which the ANP controls 23 of 47 seats.

“But the state government still hasn’t come up with a long-term plan for that issue,” Oo Than Naing said.

Rakhine State Development Affairs Minister U Min Aung said the state government was working hard to ensure security throughout the state in coordination with the military and Border Guard Police.

“We are preparing a sustainable plan to ensure people can live in their native areas safely,” he said.

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